12 Meals That Melt Belly Fat, Say Dietitians
Tired of your belly constantly feeling bloated? While it could be related to a combination of things, sometimes having a bloated belly can simply be due to the types of foods you're eating. Whether they are gassy foods or high in sodium, food can significantly impact belly bloat. This is why having a few meals that can help melt belly fat can be super helpful when you're feeling uncomfortable.
In order to determine a few foods that can help with your belly bloat, or even help you lose a few pounds and give you that flat belly, we spoke with some registered dietitians to determine the best meals that melt belly fat. From snacks to tips for your dinner, here's what they had to say. And for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Apples and peanut butter
Hannah Ackermann, RD, says that eating fiber-rich foods is important for your gut health, as well as stabilizing your blood sugar. Apples, in particular, are a great example of a fiber-rich food that can help with your overall digestion and metabolism—keeping your belly nice and flat.
"An apple's skin, the outside shell of beans, and the seeds in blackberries are great examples of insoluble fiber," says Ackermann. "Our body cannot break insoluble fiber down, so it moves through the digestive system relatively intact, adding bulk to stool and keeping our digestive system moving."
In general, eating fiber-rich foods means you'll eat less overall—and cause less belly fat in the long term.
"Fiber is an often overlooked but vital nutrient for gut health, weight management, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar levels," says Ackermann. "By definition, fiber is the non-digestible part of carbohydrates that adds bulk to food. Consuming more fiber-rich foods helps you feel fuller after eating, so you generally eat less throughout the day."
So enjoy an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter to round out your snack and keep you feeling full for a long time after! Or how about one of these 25 Delicious Apple Recipes?
Oatmeal with berries
Oatmeal is another great example of a fibrous food that is good for your digestive system. However, unlike apples, oatmeal is considered a soluble fiber, which moves through your digestive system a lot differently.
"Soluble fiber, such as the fiber found in oats, dissolves in water during digestion forming a gel-like substance that can bind to cholesterol and remove it from the body," says Ackermann. Soluble fiber can also help regulate blood sugar by slowing down digestion."
Whip up a bowl of oatmeal for soluble fiber and top with blackberries for that insoluble fiber, which can help with your overall belly bloat by the end of the day. Or one of these 11 Healthy Oatmeal Toppings That Help You Lose Weight.
However, what's important to note about fiber is how it can produce gas that will cause your belly to bloat slightly. Do not fret—this is natural! The key is to also incorporate foods that will help relieve the gas in your system.
"There are many foods that are naturally more gas-producing and may lead to bloating short term," says Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD. "These can include cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beans, bran cereals, brown rice, and leaks. Foods high in sugar and/or salt will also lead to greater water retention and thus may temporarily increase body bloating."
A breakfast burrito with a whole-grain tortilla and beans can help you with that.
"To reduce bloating and belly fat, choose these foods whole grains, beans, and gas-producing veggies in moderation," says Jaramillo. "Have small portions throughout the day versus large portions in one meal."
Dinners made with 50% produce
Whatever you decide to make for dinner—whether it be a healthy bowl of pasta or a few slices of pizza—always fill half of your plate with vegetables. It's an easy tip to remember, boost your meal with fiber, and can help you get that flat belly you desire.
"A belly fat reducing plate would be [made of] 50% produce (fruits and veggies, about 2 fists), 30% protein (hand-sized portions), and 25% carbs preferably higher fiber carbs (about 1 fist)," says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN.
Why this combination? "Protein helps to keep the body full for longer so it can help minimize between-meal hunger," says Bonci. "Produce provides the finer and fluid to contribute to satiety- fill up, not out, and carbs can provide the fiber to help foods move through the digestive tract."
Snack plates with almonds
If you're looking for a filling, flat belly snack, throw together an easy snack plate with fruit, crackers, cheese, and yes, nuts! Almonds especially.
"Almonds are high in good fats and are jam-packed with protein and fiber, so they keep you full and satisfied and can prevent you from overeating," says Shanon Henry, RD with EZCare Clinic. "This makes them a great snack to help you lose weight."
Breakfast with eggs
Get your day started on the right foot with a plate of eggs for breakfast! It can actually do wonders for your health and will help you achieve that flat belly.
"The fat and protein combination in eggs promotes satiety and decreases the levels of hunger-signaling hormones (ghrelin) in the body so they're an awesome food to eat when weight loss is the aim of the game," says Henry.
So give one of these 71+ Best Healthy Egg Recipes a try!
Greek yogurt parfaits
"Full-fat Greek yogurts have good probiotic bacteria which help keep your digestive system working efficiently, reducing stomach discomfort such as gas and bloating," says Henry.
However, while Greek yogurt is one of the best foods to eat for a flat belly, make sure to check the ingredient list—specifically for any added sugars and chemicals.
"Greek yogurt is one of the healthiest probiotic foods you can eat. But like all healthy foods, there are some fine points you need to know," says William W. Li, MD, author of the book Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. "First, get the plain yogurt, not the ones laced with added sugars or flavoring that can take down your health. If you want some sweetening, try a little honey, which is how the Greeks do it. Second, eat in moderation. In Greece, yogurt is often eaten for breakfast, so a small bowl is enough to support your gut health. Third, read the ingredients carefully. Some yogurts are 'Greek-style' but contain a lot of chemical additives you want to stay away from."
Not sure which Greek yogurt to buy? Here are The 20 Best and Worst Greek Yogurts, According to Nutritionists.
If you're looking for immediate results, the best thing to do is enjoy foods that are already "digested," which means they've been packed puréed in some way. Smoothies are a great example of this.
Abbey Sharp, RD from Abbey's Kitchen suggests a smoothie that's packed with hydrating produce because it's "easier to digest than a salad." A puréed vegetable soup will also do the same. This is an even more immediate solution for a flat belly compared to eating foods that promote any kind of gas in your digestive system.
"For beating belly bloat you'll want to choose a low in salt (which causes water retention), and free of the major food contributors to bloating including FODMAPs and gas promoting foods like beans and sulfurous veggies (think cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower)," says Sharp.
So whip up one of these 53 Best-Ever Breakfast Smoothies For Weight Loss.
Craving something sweet? Rima Kleiner MS, RD, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist at Dish on Fish says you should reach for something healthy that will satisfy that craving and provide your body with some helpful nutrients—like coconut shrimp!
"Next time you're craving something sweet, try reaching for these easy-to-make coconut shrimp," says Kleiner. "Coconut is naturally sweet, so it helps to satisfy a sweet tooth without any added sugar. Then add some shrimp for a nutrient punch. Shrimp is rich in antioxidants that help protect cells against damage (like sun damage) and the mineral selenium, which helps support a healthy immune system."
Smoked salmon deviled eggs
Kleiner says for salty cravings, deviled eggs are a great healthy snack that will satisfy your craving without totally going overboard on sodium—which inevitably causes belly bloat.
"When you're craving something salty, sure you could reach for a high-sodium snack, but all that salt may leave you feeling bloated, thirsty, and just…blah," says Kleiner. "Instead reach for something like Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs. The eggs and smoked salmon provide a hefty dose of protein, important for muscle building and repair. Plus, this tasty snack twist provides some gut-boosting probiotics thanks to yogurt (secret ingredient!) and heart-healthy omega-3s from the salmon."
Celery with dip
More of a crunchy snack person? Kleiner says celery can satisfy that crunch—especially if it's paired with a delicious dip.
"Celery provides a healthy crunch without the unhealthy fat in potato chips and crackers," says Kleiner. "For a fun celery twist, add some protein-rich trout dip to help you stay feeling fuller longer. You can whip up this Smoked Trout Dip in a matter of minutes and scoop into celery sticks (or whole-grain crackers). This dip is also rich in vitamin D, important for healthy bones and teeth."
Salmon-stuffed avocado boats
Lastly, for those looking for something savory but don't want to reach for those snacks that cause crazy belly bloat, try avocado boats!
"When you're craving savory, it's really hard to beat an avocado-salmon combo," says Kleiner. "The avocado in these Salmon-Stuffed Avocado Boats lends a creamy savory taste, while the protein-rich salmon provides a more traditional savory flavor. These whip up quickly for a nutrient-packed, heart-healthy satisfying savory snack."
For even more flat-belly tips, check out our list of 7 Healthy Snacking Habits for a Flat Belly.